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Waubay City Council discusses water level issues with township board, residents

Following a special meeting between the Waubay City Council and Racine Township Board members during which they discussed options for dealing with high water on Blue Dog Lake, the decision was made to seek assistance from the county.

According to Waubay Mayor Kevin Jens, the hour-long meeting concluded with the decision to ask Day County Commissioners to assist with additional drainage leading into Waubay Lake from Blue Dog. The Waubay City Council had asked for the public meeting with the township board to seek a possibility of additional drainage from Blue Dog Lake into Waubay Lake under a road in their township.

Lake levels on Blue Dog are higher than they have ever been in recent memory, according to Jens. At the meeting, he shared information with members of the public from such sources as the U.S. Geological Services and the Department of Energy and Natural Resources (DENR).

Jens said in 2011, when area water levels were at their highest ever recorded, water levels on Blue Dog Lake peaked at 1,805.8 feet. As of a July 18, this year report, Blue Dog was sitting at 1,805.10 feet, two inches higher than in 2011.

The latest lake level readings by the DENR, Jens noted, were taken prior to a couple of late July and early August rainstorms which he said delivered several inches of rain to the area. He reasoned the levels may be even higher now.

Additionally, Jens shared that, according to the U.S. Geological Services, as much as 115 cubic feet per second is flowing into Blue Dog Lake whereas only about 50 cubic feet per second is flowing out. Someone at the meeting pointed out the inflow numbers to Blue Dog Lake don’t account for the lake’s natural springs.

“We’re getting more in than we can get rid of,” Jens said. “It’s a tough situation... for homeowners as well as the farmers who are losing land to the rising lake levels.”

Water from Blue Dog Lake drains into Waubay Lake and Bitter Lake through a series of culverts under township and county roads as well as under the railroad tracks. As of the aforementioned July 18 report, Jens said Waubay Lake was at 1,803.27 feet and Bitter Lake was at 1,802.6 feet. At it’s peak in 2011, he said Waubay Lake was at 1,805.69 feet.

“The biggest question is, what do we do? We have got to have water flow,” Jens said. “Head pressure is the biggest part.”

Homeowners along the shore of Blue Dog Lake have been battling rising water levels this summer by placing sandbag berms around their homes. A no-wake zone has been implemented for that lake as well.

Jens said, “Folks have got to understand, this is a closed lake basin. There’s nowhere for this water to go.”

The city is concerned over a newly updated $23 million lagoon system. Jens told residents that the new waste water system can withstand one or two years of residents pumping the flood waters into the lagoon but after that, they will begin experiencing problems.

According to Jens, the Waubay City Council will address the Day County Commissioners about the issue at their Aug. 20 meeting.

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